History 104A, September 28: Girlie-Men Conquer the World!
We're in Iraq information Mesopotamia, but we are now going into
Greece. Well, I'm not going into Greece. We're finishing up Greece.
Last time went through a couple of things, at the basic fall of
Athens, if you want to call it that, with the Spartan's puppet
government, conservative government that took over. And the execution
or Socrates who I identified, despite the history books, did not
believe in democracy, was not a free thinker. And we moved on to
dealing with some of the other philosophers, but the main emphasis
would be Plato who, in a sense, was the spokesperson for Socrates.
And I said that today we would enter into some information about
Aristotle and then move onto the true story of Alexander, not the bad
movie. Did I ask how many people saw the movie on Alexander?
Q Are you mad because they depicted him as gay?
THE PROFESSOR: No. I'm mad because they didn't do it the way
those movies are supposed to be done where they got Steve Reeves. You
don't know who Steve Reeves was. He was the first Arnold
Schwarzenegger. All of those girly men. We're taken all this down.
Now I'm going to get my ass in trouble.
A I didn't tell you to say that.
THE PROFESSOR: Of course you didn't. But you start my sit down
Q Don't you think that some of the images of these famous God-like
man figures weren't kind of mystified and idealized to be these big
hunky men like Arnold? They could have been these scrawny dudes, but
you have where you make a portrait, it comes out to be a little bit
nicer than the actual thing?
THE PROFESSOR: You mean like Jessie Ventura using a body double
when he ran for governor? I think those girly men are trying to shut
you up or the real men. Is that your phone?
Obviously, historically, propaganda was used. We're not talking
about reality. Hollywood is not reality. And when you watch movies
or cartoon movies like Pocahontas, you begin to realize the
distortion. Alexander's mother was a snake dancer. And snake dancers
tend today sleep with the snake or have sex with the snakes.
A I don't know how that would work.
A I don't get it.
THE PROFESSOR: I'm not going to describe that. I'm sorry.
There's a certain point with the reporter here that I'm not going
into. Zeus came down in the form of a snake. And I guess based on
mythology, he impregnated Alexander's mother and out of that union
came the semi God, Demi God, Alexander. They didn't do that in the
movie? The mother goddesses of Crete were also snake dancers.
However, if you do need the find out how it works, many years ago
there was a pornographic movie that made the headlines, besides Deep
Throat which was one that some of you heard of called The Devil and
Miss Jones. Talk about bad films. You guys hear about The Devil and
THE INTERPRETER: Yeah.
THE PROFESSOR: Just checking. They're ancient too, not as
ancient as I am. They would know those things. In any case, even in
modern pornography, it's projected.
So we're dealing with mythology, obviously. We're dealing with
stories, but I like that. I like those things to escape. I like bad
movies that let me escape, but not when they're so bad and they
distort history like Excalibur or whatever it is, putting on Arnold
Schwarzenegger, putting on the barbarian. How did we get off of that?
You got upset with my being a wise ass. You didn't really.
Aristotle's philosophy, although the student of Socrates,
Aristotle was hired by Alexander to be his tutor. Alexander was well
educated with Aristotle being his tutor. But like many bigger than
life heroes, mythological heroes, although he did exist, the ego is so
strong that they ignore any advice, especially when they are
charismatic like Alexander comes down in history. They don't take
advice. They do what they believe is right.
In any case, I showed you the pure form and the universals.
Aristotle's philosophy could be seen as a pyramid. To Aristotle which
was reality and this was where we created universals. In reality,
there was not universals that existed out of the particulars. In
simple terms, I pointed out yesterday that, to Plato, you knew the
table because you had a sense of the universal, that all people
understood wisdom, beauty, and justice, but the philosopher kings and
queens understood it to the higher level. Based on that, to Plato,
women were equal to men -- God forbid in Greece. That was just a
basic heresy. On one level, they were different. And that was
physical strength; but mentally, women could be and Plato saw them as
equal, despite that British IQ test that we talked about earlier.
That certainly was in contrast. So therefore, we could have
philosopher queens as well.
The difference being that Plato -- I'm sorry, Aristotle believed
that we understood what a table was by studying tables. In a sense,
the beginning of science. We looked at the particulars, the
individual tables, to come up with a concept rather than having the
concept -- my favorite word for today -- embedded in us. And that way
by studying things, we could learn about reality.
Now, as I say, it is the beginning of science, if you will.
However, he came to certain conclusions by his studies which show the
fault in the study. They were -- today our studies indicate, our
examinations indicate the fallacies of those some of those things and
I'll talk about that. As far as government is concerned, Plato
believed that basically we had three forms of government that were
ideal because they did exist. And those governments would be
democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy. As far as women, they were
inferior. Why? Because when we studied the Greek societies, all
women were in an inferior position; whereas in the various
governments, there were three standard governments basically.
Aristotle was a prolific writer. We have literally 162 books of his
that have survived. Now, that's what survived. That's the amazing
let of it. As you know, some of this material got lost during the
quote/unquote dark ages which are certainly a negative term and one
that we don't use anymore as historians. Much of it was preserved by
the Muslims in the libraries of places like Damascus and Tehran in
Persia, Iran, in Baghdad, in Iraq, and of course in Syria.
He opened up a school in Athens for his students as well, so that
we could spread this on. And in a sense he opened the door to a study
of a lot of things, classified species, if you will, studied various
animals and fossils as best they had the knowledge of. He believed
that there was only one God basically, not the multi Gods of the
Greeks and of course later the Romans. He didn't believe knowledge
itself was virtue. He believed that virtue came in self-control. And
he believed though that learning inspired happiness. And therefore,
if you contemplated and you studied, you were more happy. His studies
led him to believe that man was a political animal. He believed,
based on what he saw and examined, that the freeman should be the
rural over his wife and of course his children and slaves. That
slaves lacked everything and their only usefulness lay in the services
which they rendered to others. He believed, based on his studies
again, that free artisans were inferior to farmers and men of leisure.
We wonder whether Jefferson picked up on some of that later. The
worst of all of any people were bankers. I might note that Aristotle
had a very big influence on the Catholic church, especially in the
medieval period. He said that the well regulated state should not
allow artisans or businessmen to participate in the government. He
said that private property and the monogamous family are necessary to
an efficient social order. It sounds like a supply side economist,
which is a term or a republican economy. He believed too, he
considered the Greek city take the highest type of government that can
be achieved. And obviously from the word you heard me say, he
believed that the best type was a conservative type. He believed that
Civil War among class, class warfare could be prevented by an
extremely large growth of the middle class. Again, something we
emphasize in democracy a concept that to have a solid democracy you
needed a middle class. Of course he saw that in Athens.
Again, while he looked at astrology and science, not all of them
are examinings. He did hold that the Earth was the center of the
universe not using the Christian sense of heaven above and hell below.
He understood along the classification of many many species and it is
believed that he probably engaged in dissection. Interestingly, he
believed the heart to be the center of intelligence. Today we say,
how could he not know it's the brain? But you know the circulation of
blood was not really quote/unquote discovered until the early 1600s.
People didn't understand that the blood circulated through the body
with a heart as a pump. He believed that the brain regulated the
temperature in the body and it regulated the temperature that the food
that you ate was cooked in for digestion purposes and that digestion
tools in the intestines. That's what his study showed him. And he
also believed for some strange reason that women had fewer teeth than
men. There must have been something in society or he didn't look too
closely at women's teeth. Maybe women lost their teeth earlier. That
one also surprised me. I know that men have one less rib than women
because Eve came out of the rib of Adam. Never mind. I'm just being
a wise ass again. I'm sorry.
He believed in spontaneous generation, that eels came out of
garbage, if you will. By the way, the spontaneous generation was the
theory of the Egyptians as well. Did I talk about a scar ran? Scarab
is the Egyptian name for the beetle and of course most people think of
the scarab as very much Egyptian, the necklaces the beads, the
symbols. The scarab was believed to come of the of sort of a semi God
who was believed to push the sun across the heavens where Apollo
apparently pulled in in his chariot. Of course the beetles are very
very powerful. They carry things hundreds of times their weight and
they don't take steroids. They saw the scarabs coming out of dung
heaps and therefore they believed that they were spontaneous
generation. What better God to worship than a scarab, something that
comes out of a dung heap. I thought that was an interesting
In any case, air stall's school went on for hundreds of years.
In the 15th century BCE we pointed out that Athens was somewhat under
the control of Sparta as puppet. The city continues, the trade
continues the growth continued the wealth continued, but in the north
the rumblings of a new posterior power, the new empire. The
barbarians although they were Greek under the leadership of Philip of
Macedonia. And like many stories in Greek mythology, although this
may be true, there were those who warned against the danger, tried to
unify the Greek people against the danger of Philip, the most famous
was a name named Demosthenes who some of you may have heard of he was
the individual who's extremely articulate. His speeches are still
preserved, very well similar perhaps to Abraham Lincoln's
commentaries. Apparently, he was originally a stutterer. And to cure
his stuttering, he practiced speaking and pronouncing with little
pebbles in his mouth. Since he constantly practiced speaking, he
became perhaps one of the best known speakers, historically I guess
we'd say. Wasn't it he as well who was looking for an honest man with
his lantan? Anybody remember that from mythology?
But the Greeks did not take warning and similar to the not
listening to Cassandra years earlier, the Trojans didn't listen to her
be aware the Greeks bearing gifts. In any case, Philip did come down
in the year 353, unify the Greeks for the first time through conquest.
Like many kings historically, the isolation from their children,
perhaps the abuse of their children often led to the love/hate
relationship. And obviously because they had multiple wives or
concubines, there was constantly infighting as to who would become,
whose son would become the emperor, the king, the monarch. And based
on the earlier movie of Alexander with Richard Burton, they definitely
show her, the mother forcing her son on Philip as the king in the long
run playing games palace intrigue which we see continuously with the
Romans with the women and their manipulation of the ruling of the
country and the empire. It goes on later on in Italy with the Medici
family in the medieval family and the Borgias, the power of the women
and of course the famous use of poison to eliminate leaders.
In any case, Alexander replaces Philip in 332 at the age of 23.
And sets out to conquer the which in a sense he conquers the wealthy
part of the world, the known world. And so out of Macedonia we begin
to see the expansion of Alexander's empire. Crossover, cuts the
Gordian knot and conquers Persia and gets bogged down in India.
During this period, let's call it drugs, probably syphilis or at least
some venereal disease weakens him and he goes a little bonkers
apparently, kills one of his sons, and dies at the age of 33. At the
age of 33 Alexander has conquered the world, at least again the
wealthy world. He did not leave an heir. He does not leave anybody
who can follow him directly. And so that Alexander empire that has
spread Greek culture and mixed it with Oriental culture, which is
basically Hellenistic. Helen is Greek. Hellenistic refers to the
mixing of Greek culture with a Oriental values as well. And
throughout this area Alexander builds new cities dedicated to culture,
knowledge, learning and cities become very important. They become an
important element of life, these new massive cities. And most of them
are named Alexandria. So there are many Alexandrias, but the one we
know best is the one in Egypt where a major library and culture is
kept. The City of Alexandria in Egypt had a population of 2000 or
more. Some of it went under water with the flooding. Many people are
going down there and finding buildings and they think they recently
found some of the pillars from the library of Alexandria.
In any case, with the breakup of the empire of Alexander his
generals are divided. As you can see here I guess this area of the
eastern area including parts of Persia, although different separation
of his empire, Armenia here, this is under one of the generals
Seleucids. And then another of his generals, Ptolemy. And of course
Ptolemy is name that many brothers take including the brother of
Cleopatra. Cleopatra was I guess we would say the last of the
Ptolemys. And the kingdom of the Acrasicids moving into India. And
then one of the kings moving into Greece, Macedonia, one of the
generals taking over this territory with a certain independence to the
Greeks maintaining a certain unity and Macedonia itself. So we have
then a split empire but with a new basic philosophy, the urbanization
becomes a major sense of the new Hellenistic period -- culture,
knowledge, learning, and if you philosophy. Among those the epicurean
and the stoic. New form of religion, if you will.
Yes, the Greek Gods are still involved but there is a new sense
of the city. And that city introduces from the Indian the stoic
philosophy that you don't search for something. You simply accept and
it will come to you. Out of the Hindu faith, they create the sense of
a lack of desire. And if you go onto a higher level, a higher plane,
although stoicism does not include reincarnation. When you do not
desire something, you simply accept your place in life because in the
next life you are going to be rewarded for it. Stoic is an English
word to refer to somebody who refer to them as simply accepting and
fellow. The one that existed among the upper classes was the
epicurean philosophy. That refers to something who likes to eat good
to do today. The epicurean philosophy -- eat, drink, and be merry,
and a misinterpretation to the epicurean while we enjoy life and live
life to its fullest, the whole purpose of life was to avoid pain which
is why you didn't take Kirshner's class and take an exam on Friday.
Because if you go through pain, your life is miserable. We ate to a
certain amount. We didn't do what a Romans did and that was eat till
we felt sick and then throw up and eat again. We drank but not to the
extent that we got heavily drunk because that's not very pleasant
either. So some extent the Puritans in our country had that
philosophy. We think of them as not enjoying life. But they felt
that happiness came from not totally the absence but minimal. For
Puritans, you were allowed one smoke of tobacco a day. Anything more
than that could get you sick. You were allowed one drink a day.
Anything more than that could get you sick. You were allowed one
woman a day. Anything more than that would get you sick?
THE PROFESSOR: Again, moderation for the epicureans enjoying the
city. And of course the art became more realistic and more suffering.
They showed people not in the Greek idea, not the phony Hercules which
we've identified, but people began to see seen, although sometimes
with that same exaggerated steroid out body in suffering in pain, in
movement, the Hellenistic art, one of the most famous pieces shows an
old woman looking like an old woman, bent over, going to market.
Well, I've gone as far as I can. We do have a group meeting. If
we will spend the next 20 minutes in that group meeting, the sheets
are up here. Please do head for your groups. If you're not ready,
you know to write it up.
The exact question is -- compare the Greek concepts of polis,
hubris, and fate with our beliefs today. Compare the Greek concepts
of polis, hubris, and fate with our beliefs today. New chairperson,
please pick up the sheets.